As Euro 2020 approaches, France are undoubtedly the consensus favourites to go all the way and lift the trophy at Wembley Stadium on 11 July.
Having made it to the Euros final on their home turf in 2016, where they were upset by an uninspiring Portugal side, France were able to keep building over the following two years. The result was a victorious World Cup campaign in Russia in 2018, a triumph that made Didier Deschamps’ team the automatic favourites for the following Euros.
The coronavirus-enforced delay to Euro 2020, which has seen the competition pushed back by 12 months, should not have particularly harmed French chances, though the only thing more difficult than winning a major tournament is winning two in a row. That could be especially true for Les Bleus, who will begin their summer campaign in a ‘group of death’ – Group F, in which Germany, old foes Portugal, and Hungary await.
Deschamps and co have momentum on their side, however, having finished top of their qualifying group with eight wins, one draw and one defeat, and having recorded two victories and one stalemate in their last batch of fixtures – March’s World Cup qualifiers. Of course little can usually be gleaned from such results, but if France can harness that momentum and get the best out of their star players – the likes of Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe, Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann – then they could well add to the European Championship titles that the national team won in 1984 and 2000. There has even been a recall for in-form Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who had been absent from the France set-up since 2015.
Deschamps was in the French midfield for that winning run at Euro 2000, captaining Roger Lemerre’s squad and lifting the trophy in the Netherlands at the end of a competition played on Dutch and Belgian soil. More than 20 years later, he has the chance to claim the silverware as a coach and add to the legacy he has already begun to create with Les Bleus.
Group F fixtures
All times BST
Tuesday 15 June, 8pm: France vs Germany – Munich
Saturday 19 June, 2pm: Hungary vs France – Budapest
Wednesday 23 June, 8pm: Portugal vs France – Budapest
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Mike Maignan (Milan), Steve Mandanda (Marseille).
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton), Léo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernández (Bayern), Presnel Kimpembe (PSG), Jules Koundé (Sevilla), Clément Lenglet (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern), Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid), Kurt Zouma (Chelsea).
Midfielders: Kingsley Coman (Bayern), N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea), Thomas Lemar (Atlético Madrid), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern).
Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid),ï»¿ Ousmane Dembélé (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Kylian Mbappé (PSG), Marcus Thuram (Mönchengladbach).
Ones to watch
Mbappe can be a nightmare for any defence with his pace and finishing skills. Three years ago, the PSG striker became the youngest goalscorer in a World Cup final since Pele in 1958. Now 22, Mbappe is an even greater threat.
Also worth keeping an eye on is Wissam Ben Yedder. The Monaco centre-forward, who has scored 22 goals and recorded nine assists across Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France this season, may not start every game but could play an important role – especially if France are still around in the latter stages.
Odds to win tournament
France are 5/1 to win Euro 2020.
France will be the favourites in most fans’ eyes for a number of reasons. Firstly, they are reigning world champions. Secondly, their run to the Euro 2016 final still lingers in the memory. On top of those, they have cultivated a deep, talented pool of players in recent years – both leading up to their 2018 World Cup triumph and in the time since.
It is notoriously difficult to win back-to-back tournaments, however, with Spain’s Euros-World Cup-Euros three-peat between 2008 and 2012 marking the most miraculous of achievements. Indeed, France (albeit with two entirely different squads than their current one) followed their 2006 World Cup victory with a bottom-placed group-stage exit at Euro 2008.
France should undoubtedly be in the latter stages this summer, despite the difficulty that may lie in their ‘group of death’ with Portugal, Germany and Hungary. It may seem too simple of an assumption to predict that they will win the tournament, but they are the easy pick.
France to win Euro 2020.